The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
By Jim Yuskavitch
Frank Moore is a fly-fishing legend—at least along Oregon's North Umpqua River, which has been renowned for its summer steelhead since the 1930s, when Western fiction author Zane Grey fished its waters. Moore is a D-Day veteran; he returned after the war to live beside the river with his wife, Jeanne. Together, they became among the North Umpqua's most vocal and effective advocates. In 1966 they founded the Steamboaters, a group of local angler-conservationists who still zealously guard the welfare of the river and its population of wild and wily steelheads.
Now a coalition of fish conservation groups is seeking to extend the Moores' lifelong contribution into the future with a Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary that will protect a vital spawning habitat. Beyond that, the effort may prove to be a viable alternative to more restrictive approaches (like wilderness or wild-and-scenic-river designations) in an inclement political era.
The goal of the sanctuary—an approach largely spearheaded by the Portland-based Wild Salmon Center—is to permanently protect salmon strongholds from future habitat degradation. Most such areas, said Mark Trenholm, the center's senior program manager, are stressed and in need of recovery. "We are trying to save the last best places for salmon," he said. Among other campaigns are a 60,000-acre Elk River Salmon Emphasis Area (SEA) on Oregon's south coast, a 28,000-acre Kilchis SEA on the north coast, and an ambitious proposal for a 700,000-acre Copper River Salmon Reserve in Alaska's famed Copper River Delta.
Unlike traditional land protection strategies like wilderness designations, salmon emphasis areas don't need to meet stringent wildness criteria. They can include fish-conservation-management directives such as habitat restoration without precluding other uses of the land, like logging and motorized vehicle access, theoretically making them less controversial and easier to get through Congress.
The Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary would encompass 104,000 acres in the Steamboat Creek watershed within the Umpqua National Forest, probably the North Umpqua's most important steelhead-spawning tributary. "The basic premise is to give the Forest Service direction that gives wild fish priority," said John Kober, executive director of Portland-based Pacific Rivers, the organization that has been at the forefront of the sanctuary campaign.
Jeanne and Frank Moore talk wild steelhead conservation at their home above the North Umpqua River in the Southern Oregon Cascade Mountains.Jim Yuskavitch
Supporters of the sanctuary stress that it would still allow other natural resource uses. "This is a wild-fish-emphasis area, but it is not a wilderness area," said Oakley Brooks, the Wild Salmon Center's communications director. "There will be logging. Frank is adamant that he does not want to lock the place up, but he wants to protect wild steelhead."
Even so, salmon sanctuary advocates find themselves battling against the current. The proposed Elk River SEA in the Siskiyou National Forest on Oregon's south coast, for example, would have established a 60,000-acre preserve on public land to protect the Elk's runs of Chinook and Coho salmon and steelhead. Old-growth forests would be protected, but otherwise logging would have been allowed. But despite lots of local support, the proposed legislation faltered.
"It never really settled into a slot," said Jerry Becker, a consulting forester and founder of the Friends of the Elk River (now Wild Rivers Land Trust). "It kept getting revised and ultimately never got a bill or a hearing." Becker noted that the Forest Service was also reluctant to sign on to a new management designation. Proposals for salmon emphasis areas on Oregon's north coast were caught up in a lawsuit by a number of county governments, who accuse the state of illegally reducing logging on state forest. The Copper River Salmon Preserve campaign has also faltered.
If eventually designated as wild and scenic, most of the Elk River's headwater tributaries will be protected by buffer zones, but won't include salmon specific conservation measures as intended in the original Elk River salmon emphasis area proposal.Jim Yuskavitch
Wild fall Chinook salmon spawn in a southwestern Oregon coastal stream. Salmon sanctuaries would ensure that wild salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat would be protected from human development and disturbance.Jim Yuskavitch
Salmon-protection efforts have not halted, however. Oregon's Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, are sponsoring the Oregon Wildlands Act, which would create two new wilderness areas and designate most of the Elk River's major upper tributaries as Wild and Scenic (although it would not give as much protection as the original salmon emphasis area proposal). And coalitions of conservation groups have worked with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to designate 20 coastal watersheds as Wild Fish Emphasis Areas, where no hatchery salmon or steelhead will be stocked for the next 10 years.
But at the moment, the bright spot for salmon-specific protective designation is on the North Umpqua. With the support of senators Wyden and Merkley (and Representative Pete DeFazio), Senate Bill 513 would create the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area. (The word 'sanctuary' was dropped because of Republican concerns that wild-fish advocates were trying to establish a new protective designation—which they are.) "All we need now," said Kober, "is to attach it to a must-pass bill." If the Moore sanctuary succeeds, it could make the upstream journey to the next salmon sanctuary a little less difficult.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA magazine.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."